Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, only a small percentage of online music lessons took place. Today, every music teacher across the nation has conducted online music lessons. At Angeles Academy, we have the unique perspective of seeing this played out across hundreds of teachers and students, making discoveries useful to parents and students!
Online Music lessons, Advantages?
More options for students: Is a teacher you love moving away? Is there a great instructor for a rare instrument and no one in your city teaches it?
Online music lessons expand the options from a small local radius, to an international scale. As technology keeps improving, the online experience will become improve, eventually simulating an in person lesson. At that time, the advantages of working with anyone in the world will become clearer.
Ear training, Sight Reading? Believe it or not, sight reading, one of the hardest subjects for many students, may improve with online lessons. This is because it’s easy in person to “show” a student how to play something. Online, this is not so easy. Students are finding they have to take more responsibility for reading themselves. This means the student has to track better where they are in the score. For developing the ear, we finding that many teachers online are playing the part of the music they want to student to work on, rather than pointing to the score. This is helpful for the student in relating the sound they hear to the score.
No transportation cost: This is fairly obvious, but the amount of time and cost involved in transportation makes online music lessons much easier for both parties.
Younger students are having a harder time focusing, and sometimes not taking the online lessons seriously. Online, the teacher is 6 inches tall, and a 5 year old can end the meeting, or mute their teacher, dangerous tools. The lower the maturity level of the student, the more support they are going to need from parents or a sibling for online lessons to be effective.
Quality of Sound and Video. Internet connection issues can interrupt the lessons, and this can be frustrating for students and instructors. The quality level of sound also can make it harder to work on the finer subtleties of music, especially tone, and dynamic range. This applies more to the advanced student. On the piano, subtlety of pedaling may be harder to evaluate.
How to Solve Technical Issues
If you can plug your device or laptop into the wall through ethernet your experience will be better. Wifi is less stable, a lot of the freezing will be solved this way.
Turn off all streaming on other devices in the house: Anything that take bandwidth will affect the quality of the lesson.
If your internet connection is still not great, using a cellphone is the next best thing. Despite the small size of the screen, generally cell phones perform better.
Headphone are often very helpful! try the lessons with and without.
What Instructors can do Improve Online Music Lessons
Setup the cameras in a way that gives both parties the best view of the instrument. For piano as an example, a side view is ideal, with enough height that the instructor can see what keys a student is playing.
The instructor must better plan the lesson in advance. What exercises are more effective online? What materials are needed during the lesson? Make sure the student or parent get this in advance. In an in person lesson, a teacher can spontaneously grab a book and change the course of the lesson. Variety in an online lesson must be planned. In music there are so many areas to focus on here is a quick list:
sight reading, rhythm, posture and seating, music theory, ear training, memorization, goal setting, and interpretation such as dynamics, voicing, phrasing, tempo.
Some of these subjects these are easier than others online. The instructor needs to really think about what to focus on to bring the most value. Finally, having a great internet connection is a requirement for the instructor.
What Parents can do to Improve Online Lessons
Younger children: The solution for working with younger children is more parental involvement. This is something that is a good idea anyway. Realistically, younger kids (7 and under), are not always going to read and follow homework notes. When parents watch the online lesson, they can help place the child’s hands on the keys or frets, and take a moment to learn the material their child is learning. All of this is very valuable not just to the success of the online lesson, but to the progress of the student in general.
Parents and students of any age also need to be responsible and organized. Have the materials your teacher requested ready, and carefully write out your homework notes.
Can Online Music Lesson be as Effective as in Person Lessons?
Absolutely. That said, some of the factors in the above article need to be noted. For students who are relatively mature, and intermediate and above, lessons should go as well as in person with small adjustments. A great quality lesson should be just as possible online as in person, since it involved the same steps, reviewing what was done in the previous week, learning the next step, carefully assigning the next goal and giving clear instructions for how to practice.
Angeles Academy uses Zoom for its music lesson online platform